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    With staff in place, St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo studies his personnel

    02.12.2009 3:30 pm

    By Bill Coats
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    A virtual hermit to the media — and, in turn, to Rams fans — since he was hired as head coach 3 1/2 weeks ago, Steve Spagnuolo emerged Thursday, accompanied by offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, defensive coordinator Ken Flajole and special-teams coach Tom McMahon. They sat down with reporters at Rams Park for an interview session.

    Spagnuolo, the former New York Giants defensive coordinator who is serving as a head coach for the first time at any level, conceded that his first days on the job have been overwhelming. “What month are we in? It’s February, right?” he quipped, before adding, “It’s been a good overwhelming. One of those overwhelmings you want to have happen to you.”

    The first order of business was putting together his staff, which finally is complete. Spagnuolo hired 19 assistants — one more than Scott Linehan had. Spagnuolo did most of the legwork last month at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where he was holed up in a hotel room for three days.

    “The only time I walked out of the room was either to walk down to (GM Billy Devaney’s) room, which was on the next floor up, and the last night I walked down to the lobby to see somebody. That was it,” Spagunolo said. “That was an interesting, wonderful experience. But I like to go down there and see guys I haven’t seen all year. I didn’t get a chance to do that.”

    Now, Spagnuolo is busy identifying himself with the 52 players currently under contract with the Rams in preparation for free agency, which begins Feb. 27. Before homing in on other free agents, the team first must decide who stays and who goes among its own ranks.

    “I think we’re going to have to rely heavily on Billy; he’s been here. And the (three assistant) coaches that we retained, who have a feel” for the personnel, Spagnuolo said. “Because you can only see so much on film. But we’ll use any and all of the resources that we have to get a bead on who we think can help us going forward.”

    How active the Rams will be in free agency is to be determined. “Don’t have a clue on that right now,” Spagnulo said. “When Kevin (Demoff, the newly hired executive vice president and salary cap specialist), and myself and Billy get together and start to formulate a game plan, I’ll have a better idea on that.”

    On other subjects:

    *The offseason conditioning program will begin March 16.

    *Because they have a new head coach, the Rams will be permitted to hold three minicamps instead of the usual two. One will be before the draft (April 25-26) and another after. The third hasn’t been scheduled yet.

    *The site of training camp is TBD. At Spagnuolo’s previous stops, with the Giants and Eagles, the teams trained out of town. But he didn’t appear to be averse to having camp here. “I’m kind of digging through that right now; there are advantages to both,” he said. “We’ve just got to weed through what works best for the team now, what works best in the first year, working the kinks out.”

    If the site is out of town, “you’ve got to have the right place. You can’t go away just for the sake of going away,” he said. “It’s getting a little late, too. Not that we couldn’t do it.”

    *Several players have stopped by Spagnuolo’s second-floor office for introductions. “Some of the guys have come up to say hello, which I appreciate,” he said. “What I wanted to be careful with was reaching out to certain ones and upsetting the others.”

    *Spagnuolo and Bruce Warwick, his right-hand man, still are introducing themselves to the employees throughout Rams Park. “It was important to me not to just meet everyone in the building in one setting, but to sit down” with them, Spagnuolo explained. “Bruce and I have done it every morning and every afternoon. We’re almost all the way through.”

    *Even at this early date, the playbooks are starting to develop. “We’re chipping away at it,” Spagnuolo said. “One of the good things with what we’ve got going on in all three phases is the playbooks are coming from somewhere, the ideas. We’re tweaking, and mixing and matching.”

    *Spagnuolo will have a hand in shaping the defense, at least at the beginning. “Initially, there’ll be some of that. But I’ve got a tremendous amount of confidence in Ken and the staff,” he said. “I’m finding out quickly that there’s a lot involved in being a head coach. To do it right, you’ve got to be in here all the time. So, it’s certainly going to fall on Ken and his staff. . . .

    “One of the great things about hiring a new staff on defense is, there are a lot of other ideas that come into play. I certainly don’t think we had all the answers in New York. Now we can just beg, borrow and steal, and do it officially, because the guys are here. That’s all you do in the league. You steal good ideas from other people.”

    *Spagnuolo and his wife, Maria, are about to make a decision on a house. “I have to call my wife to find out if she got something worked out,” he said. “She went out and looked at a bunch of them and she pulled me out one time last week to look at one. I think we’re closing in on it.”

    *Despite the frenetic pace so far, Spagnuolo is relishing the experience. “It’s been challenging and exciting and wonderful all at the same time,” he said. “In some regards, when you start jumping into it, rolling up your sleeves, you forget about it being new. Because you’re just working again.

    “But what has been really exciting is putting a bunch of guys together that you really like and respect, and watching them just jump right in it and get into the flow and go to work. We’re all really anxious to get around the players.”

    All for now . . .
    Last edited by MauiRam; -02-12-2009 at 07:18 PM.

  2. #2
    maineram Guest

    Re: With staff in place, St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo studies his personnel

    Great to hear from Spags and what he's thinking and doing so far. I think that putting the offense and defensive schemes together before deciding on personnel is a no brainer. Would certainly narrow it down on who to keep, and who to go after. Will be interesting to see who on the current roster fits well on both sides of the ball.

    Maineram -

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